A promotion is something to celebrate, but don’t be surprised if your work friends are not lining up to buy you celebratory drinks. Like it or not, your promotion will likely change the dynamic between you and your work buddies.

Once you are a boss, your work behavior may need some adjustments. Even if you are ready for the job, it can be tough to suddenly manage your friends.

It is possible to stay friends with people you are now in charge of, but it takes work. Here are some tips to make the transition from work pal to boss.

Don’t Start Acting High and Mighty


Sure, a promotion means that you should act more professional and authoritative. You need to make the subtle changes that allow your friends and coworkers to start seeing you as an authority figure.

But it most certainly does not mean that you should start walking around like you’re the greatest thing since stand-up taco shells (try them if you haven’t, they are a revelation).

People are much more likely to respect you and your authority if you are respectful to them as well.

Be Careful With Jokes
careful_with_jokes_when_you_are_in_charge_of_friendsEven though work is meant to be a place of business, you and your work friends probably do your fair share of joking around. There is nothing wrong with sharing a laugh at work, but once you are a boss, be careful about how you joke.

When you spend so much time with your work friends, it can be easy to slip into a level of familiarity that makes you feel comfortable enough to say almost anything in front of them. As a boss, you have to curb this behavior.

Quick rule of thumb, if it is something that Michael Scott would say (yes, that includes “that’s what she said” jokes), you probably should not say it.

Try Not to Be Scary


When someone becomes a leader for the first time, it can be tempting to try to assert authority by putting on a scary, tough demeanor. Don’t do that.

Authoritative does not have to be ruthless. When you suddenly start acting like a mob boss, it can end up having the opposite effect on your friends.

If you act like a caricature of a tough boss, it can be harder for people, especially your friends who know the real you, to take you seriously.

Tell the Truth


Honesty is one of the most appealing traits, especially from a boss. Don’t be afraid to tell your friends the truth about work-related matters, even if it is tough.

For example, if one of your friends has messed up on an important project, you should talk to him or her about it the same way you would with any other team member. An honest and respectful approach is always the best option.

Be Real


Really, the most important thing to remember when you get promoted is that you are still the same person. A boss/friend hybrid is not a mythical creature like Santa, a centaur or a Santaur (half Santa, half reindeer, 100% awesome).

You may have to make a few adjustments, but you can be a good boss and a good friend with a few boundaries and a dash of good judgment. If you have concerns, address them.

Just keep it real and be the best boss you can be, to your friends and all other employees.


Erin Palmer


Erin Palmer is a writer and editor who thinks that bosses and employees can be friends. Her work has appeared in numerous publications and websites, including The Chicago Tribune and The Huffington Post.




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